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WASHINGTON, PA, June 18, 2016 -- Winless in four previous starts this year, Homicide Hunter regained his touch Saturday at The Meadows when he shot the Lightning Lane to capture the $54,000 Meadows Maturity Trot for harness racing stallions and geldings 4 and up in 1:51.4, fastest ever by a 4-year-old gelding at The Meadows. The time eclipsed the mark of 1:52.2 established by Rembrandt Spur in 2010 and is only a tick off the track's all-age trotting record. Homicide Hunter had a monster year last year at 3, winning 16 of 18 starts and $475,677. In his 2016 outings before Saturday, however, the son of Mr Cantab-Evening Prayer was no better than third. Winning driver Dave Palone, who also was named on Il Sogno Dream and Wind Of The North in the Meadows Maturity, selected Homicide Hunter after consulting with trainer Chris Oakes. "Chris said, 'Before you do anything, you better watch the replay of last week,'" Palone said. "He was super last week and finished up real strong. Chris thought if I got him into the race, he was the best horse, and he was." Homicide Hunter stalked Muscle Up The Goal from the pocket while Il Sogno Dream, stablemate of Muscle Up The Goal, attacked outside. Palone indicated that wrangling the winner into the Lightning Lane wasn't as easy as it looked. "It's tough to get enough momentum, especially with a trotter, and he was running out a little bit," Palone said. "I had to kind of stuff him in there and make him go at the same time. He finished up very strong." Homicide Hunter downed Il Sogno Dream by 1-1/2 lengths while Muscle Up The Goal saved show. Michelle Crawford and Albert Crawford campaign Homicide Hunter, who soared over $600,000 in career earnings. Elsewhere on Saturday's card, the pocket-sitting Lady's Dude, using Lasix for the first time, outkicked the leader, Tamarind, to defeat him by a nose in 1:53.3 for Palone, trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Johnny Yoder. Monte Christo Spur rallied for show. The 5-year-old Victory Sam-Lady's Star gelding extended his lifetime bankroll to $316,533. Tony Hall and Palone each collected four wins on the 13-race program while Brian Zendt and trainer Randy Bendis each enjoyed a triple. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Harness Racing This Week: North America Cup, Fan Hanover, Roses Are Red, Goodtimes and Armbro Flight finals, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ontario; Meadows Maturity, The Meadows, Washington, Pa.; and Roll With Joe, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit spotlight will be on Mohawk Racetrack this weekend as the Ontario oval hosts five lucrative stakes finals on Saturday night (June 18) led by the C$1 million Pepsi North America Cup for 3-year-old colt pacers. Also on the card will be the C$438,000 Fan Hanover for 3-year-old filly pacers, the C$370,000 Roses Are Red for older mare pacers, the C$268,000 Goodtimes for 3-year-old colt trotters and the C$267,000 Armbro Flight for older mare trotters. Also on Saturday, The Meadows will host the $54,000 Meadows Maturity Trot for 4-year-old horses and geldings. Tioga Downs rounds out the weekend of Grand Circuit racing on Sunday (June 19) with the $179,000 Roll With Joe for open pacers. Complete entries for the Mohawk races can be found by clicking on this link. Meadows and Tioga Downs entries can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: Last weekend's Grand Circuit action was highlighted by the $210,000 Charlie Hill Memorial held on a steamy Saturday (June 11) evening at Scioto Downs. Obrigado fended off the late charge of track record holder and world champion Natural Herbie to claim the trophy for the Hill Memorial Trot. The 6-year-old gelding, piloted by regular reinsman Mark MacDonald, was the beneficiary of a perfect pocket trip, which the duo parlayed into a powerful 1:53.3 score. Leaving from post six, the gelded son of Boy Band and the Malabar Man mare Malimony settled into second behind the leader and recent world champion Muscle Up The Goal. Content to allow the hometown favorite and the public's selection at 4-5 to set the pace, Obrigado simply followed that rival around the Columbus oval behind fractions of :27.1, :57.3 and 1:25.3 before he was pulled out of the pocket at the top of the stretch to commence his drive to the wire with a :27.4 final panel. Obrigado glided by Muscle Up The Goal and completed his victorious journey to the wire seemingly well in hand. Natural Herbie placed pressure on the property of conditioner Paul Kelley, SRF Stable, Linwood Higgins, and Stable 45, however, his first over bid rendered him unable to match strides with the victor. Flanagan Memory, the 2013 O'Brien Award winner, closed from eighth to nab the show spot. Sent off at odds of 3-1, Obrigado paid his supporters $8.20. Betting Line and Boston Red Rocks head into Saturday's C$1 million Pepsi North America Cup final after defeating the finest 3-year-old pacers on the continent in a pair of eliminations on Saturday night (June 11) at Mohawk Racetrack. Betting Line used a first-over trip to capture the first $39,500 elimination in 1:49.1. The Casie Coleman trainee, who was the 8-5 second choice, tracked from fifth in the early going, then made a bid for the lead at the midway point as Lyons Snyder took the field to the quarter in :27.2, half in :55.2 and three-quarters in 1:22.2. Into the stretch, Lyons Snyder veered off the rail and gave a pocket-sitting Racing Hill room to sneak up the inside, but Betting Line was on the outside and used a :26.2 final quarter kick to breeze by his rivals and score the victory by three-quarters of a length. Lyons Snyder finished second, while Racing Hill was third. Also advancing is fourth-place finisher Control The Moment and Beast Mode, who finished fifth. Betting Line notched his third victory of the season from four outings and ninth lifetime triumph. With the win, the son of Bettor's Delight and Heather's Western lifted his career earnings to $473,280 for owners West Wins Stable, Christine Calhoun and Mac Nichol. In the second elimination, the Steve Elliott pupil Boston Red Rocks used an off-the-pace trip to win by a half-length in 1:50.3. Boston Red Rocks and driver Tim Tetrick followed from fourth as Nvestment Bluechip posted the opening panel in :26.4 and Nocturnal Bluechip clocked the half in :54.4. While the sophomores were passing the three-quarter marker in 1:22.4, Boston Red Rocks had advanced first-up and was stalking Nocturnal Bluechip from second. When the pacers entered the stretch, Boston Red Rocks, the 3-5 favorite, struck the front and held off a late surge from Big Top Hanover, who finished second and third-place finisher Michael's Victory. Magnum J, who went from last to fourth and fifth-place finisher Manhattan Beach also advance to the final. Boston Red Rocks scored his second triumph of the season from four outings and sixth career victory. With the win, the son of the late Rocknroll Hanover and McGibson lifted his career earnings to $639,455 for Peter Blood and Rick Berks. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2016, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farm is the sponsor for the 2016 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the current leaders: Drivers: 1. Jordan Stratton - 191.5; 2. Tim Tetrick - 126; 3. Daniel Dube - 120; 4. Yannick Gingras - 112; 5. Matt Kakaley - 110. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 198; 2. Jeff Bamond Jr. - 168; 3. Peter Tritton - 139.5; 4. Rene Allard - 125; 5. Clyde Francis - 82.5. Owners: 1. Harry von Knoblauch - 139.5; 2. Bamond Racing - 110; 3. Burke Racing Stable - 57.15; 4. Weaver Bruscemi - 52.15; 5. Purple Haze Stables - 44. Looking ahead: Next weekend will see Grand Circuit action taking place at Meadowlands Racetrack and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The Meadowlands will host the Arthur Cutler Memorial for older trotters on Friday (June 24), while Pocono will have eliminations for the Ben Franklin (older pacers), Earl Beal Memorial (3-year-old colt trotters), Max Hempt Memorial (3-year-old colt pacers) and James Lynch (3-year-old filly pacers) on Saturday (June 25). Paul Ramlow Grand Circuit Publicity Director

WASHINGTON, PA, June 11, 2016 -- Smokinmombo dominated a short field in Saturday's $46,500 Meadows Maturity for harness racing trotting mares 4 and up, retaking the lead before the quarter and cruising to victory in 1:54. Harley Momma pocketed the 2-5 favorite from the gate, but Smokinmombo and Aaron Merriman would have none of the two hole. "I definitely wanted to race her like she was the best," Merriman said. "I was pretty confident when we got to the front." The task for Smokinmombo became easier when Meadowbranch Wendy, who entered the Meadows Maturity off three straight victories in overnights, broke stride down the backside. That left only three rivals to chase Smokinmombo, and none could get close. The 4-year-old daughter of Explosive Matter-Horizontal Mombo defeated Harley Momma by a length while the first-up Sky Hanover rallied for show. "I really think she's a smaller track horse," Merriman said. "On a half-mile or five-eighths-mile track, she'll really excel. I'm interested to see how she races on a bigger track this year. I'd like to be able to follow some good horses with her and give her another shot at it." Chris Beaver trains Smokinmombo, who extended her career bankroll to $357,152, and owns with Synerco Ventures and James Gallagher. In the $20,000 Winners Over Life/Preferred Handicap Pace, Unlocked made it two straight -- and four wins in his last seven starts -- with a front-end score in 1:52 for Jim Pantaleano, trainer Norm Parker and owner Megan Rogers Racing Stables. Foiled Again, harness racing's richest performer with more than $7.3 million in earnings, stalked Unlocked from the pocket and made up ground in the Lightning Lane but fell a head short. The gallant 12-year-old gelding is now winless in 10 outings this year. Dapper Dude earned show. A 5-year-old son of Duneside Perch-Miss Major Power, Unlocked now boasts $447,494 in lifetime earnings. Pantaleano piloted four winners and Merriman three on the 14-race card. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 26, 2016 -- The Meadows Racetrack & Casino would like to remind trainers and owners that payments for the 50th Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids and The Meadows Maturity Trots for 4-year-olds and up are due by Feb. 15. Payment for the Adios, a premier event for 3-year-old pacers with an estimated $500,000 purse, is $600. That payment also maintains the eligibility of sophomore pacing fillies to the $150,000 (est) Quinton Patterson Adioo Volo. Eliminations for the Adios take place Saturday, July 23, with the Adios final and the Adioo Volo set for the following Saturday. The Meadows Maturity Trots include an event for mares (June 11) and a stake for stallions and geldings (June 18), each with an estimated purse of $50,000. A $300 nomination fee is due by Feb. 15, with a second payment of $600 due by March 15. Checks for all events should be made payable to the Hambletonian Society. For more information, please contact the office of the race secretary, 724.225.9897. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, May 2, 2015 -- Melady's Monet bounced back from a 55-length loss to capture the inaugural $62,100 The Meadows Maturity for harness racing stallions and geldings four and up Saturday at The Meadows and reclaim his spot as one of the sport's top older trotters. Melady's Monet was rolling along on a three-race winning streak -- all in the Open Handicap at The Meadowlands -- when things went awry on April 10 and John Campbell was forced to ease him. "He's an incredible animal; he's a weird horse," said Kevin McDermott, who trains the 6-year-old Revenue S-Keystone Melady gelding for Melady Enterprises. "If you take him out of his program, he ties up . . . He could have lost by 10 lengths that night, but John is a pro. He did what was best for the horse." The connections withdrew Melady's Monet from consideration for an Elitlopp invitation because of the long trip. But they risked the journey to the Meadows, and all systems were go. "We shipped him out here yesterday," McDermott said, "and we made sure his tie-up numbers were great." Leaving from post 4, Campbell waited for the field to settle before moving Melady's Monet to the front. He easily deflected the first-over challenge of Rose Run Parker, a 4-year-old conditioned by Ron Burke, and drew off to triumph by 4 lengths in 1:53. Classicality rallied for second while Madewell Hanover earned show. Burke's other contender, the 2014 New York Sires Stakes champion sophomore Gural Hanover, who was making his seasonal debut, never got involved and finished sixth. With the victory, Melady's Money boasts $497,508 in career earnings. $183,216 Adios Betty The Kentucky Derby Day card also featured the Adios Betty, a $183,216 Pennsylvania Sires Stake for sophomore filly pacers, with Safe From Terror, Storm Point and Serious Filly each taking a division. Burke enjoyed a stakes double with Safe From Terror and Storm Point. Safe From Terror clocked the fastest split when she charged from the pocket in the lane for Matt Kakaley to overtake the leader, Triple V Hanover, and defeat her by a neck in 1:52.1, a lifetime mark. Ginger Tree Alexis earned show. Our Horse Cents Stables, Stable 45, and J&T Silva Stables campaign Safe From Terror, a daughter of Western Terror-In A Safe Place who is a half-sister of the venerable Foiled Again. "She has a long way to go before she's like Foiled Again," Kakaley said, "but she's a little sweetheart. With a trip like that, she'll get the job done." Storm Point rated patiently in fourth for Dave Palone and Black Horse Racing, brushing in the stretch to score in 1:52.3, fastest of her career. Somewhere Sweet raced well first over for second, with Seeking Nirvana third. "She has a little bit of greenness," Palone said, "but she's very intelligent in a race." Serious Filly was just that, launching a serious uncovered bid from fifth that carried her to victory for Mike Wilder in 1:53.2. Arts Jem finished second, beaten a head, while Southwind Roulette, Pennsylvania's 2014 freshman champion, paced awkwardly through the Lightning Lane and settled for third. "She can grind for a long way," said winning trainer Brian Brown. "She's better at grinding than sprinting. You saw her put in a few steps today. When I get that straightened out, she'll be a good filly." Emerald Highlands Farm bred and owns the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Seriously. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, May 1, 2015 -- Though harness racing stablemates and 4-year-olds, Gural Hanover and Rose Run Parker have taken different geographic paths to stardom. Gural Hanover captured the New York Sires Stake championship last year; Rose Run Parker achieved the same feat -- in Indiana. Together, they've earned just over $1 million for trainer Ron Burke, and they'll lead the field in Saturday's inaugural edition of the $62,100 The Meadows Maturity for 4-and-up stallion and gelding trotters. The event, part of a special Kentucky Derby Day card that begins at 11:25 AM, goes as race 9. "They're very similar," Burke said of his dynamic duo. "They dominated their sires stakes programs, and they have big chances this year to move up." Gural Hanover (post 1, Matt Kakaley) has won 11 of 15 career starts and will be launching his season after a sharp 1:55.3 qualifier at Harrah's Philly. "That was a vicious qualifier," Burke said of the Crazed-Givemearing gelding owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Little E and Panhellenic Stables. "I'd like to have one more work in him, but it is what it is." Rose Run Parker (post 2, Dave Palone), had a 3-race winning streak snapped April 18 when he broke stride in Hoosier Park's Invitational. "I didn't like that break last week, but that's out of character for him," Burke said. "I don't expect it to be a problem. Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and William Haas, Jr. campaign the Jailhouse Jesse-Centergy gelding. Burke said he hasn't plotted specific schedules for Gural Hanover and Rose Run Parker. "When they finish one race, I think about the next race," he said. "I never assume they'll be ready for this race or that race. I take it week by week." The road to victory may go through the Burke pair, but Melady's Monet (post 4, John Campbell) may be just the contender to speed down that road. The 6-year-old Revenue S-Keystone Melady gelding already has won five of eight outings this year, including three straight in the Open Handicap at the Meadowlands, for trainer Kevin McDermott and owner Melady Enterprises. Last week's distaff division of The Meadows Maturity was a showcase for local talent, as Bill Bercury's Daylon Miracle blew past 2014 Trotter of the Year Shake It Cerry to lead a 1-2-3 finish for The Meadows-based horses. Bercury will be looking for a stakes sweep Saturday when he sends out Tamarind, (post 8, Aaron Merriman), who has banked $624,484 in his career but needed a drop to conditioned company to get his most recent victory. Completing the local contingent are Classicality (post 5, Brian Zendt), an easy winner in The Meadows' top trot last week, and Sixteen Mikes (post 7, Eric Goodell), campaigned and bred by Bob Key and conditioned by Rich Gillock. Saturday's 13-race card also features three splits of the $183,216 Adios Betty, a Pennsylvania Sires Stake for sophomore filly pacers. The field for The Meadows Maturity, in post position order, with drivers and morning line odds: 1. Gural Hanover, Matt Kakaley, 9/2 2. Rose Run Parker, Dave Palone, 7/2 3. Madewell Hanover, Chris Ryder, 6-1 4. Melady's Monet, John Campbell, 5/2 5. Classicality, Brian Zendt, 8-1 6. Possessed Fashion, Tony Hall, 8-1 7. Sixteen Mikes, Eric Goodell, 10-1 8. Tamarind, Aaron Merriman, 10-1 The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, April 25, 2015 -- Daylon Miracle stalked 2014 Trotter of the Year Shake It Cerry from the pocket, then blew by the harness racing champ in the Lightning Lane to pull off a 5-1 upset in Friday's inaugural edition of the $51,100 The Meadows Maturity for mare trotters 4 and older. In the first start of her 4-year-old campaign, Shake It Cerry led the field through a snappy 1:24.3 three-quarters but tired late and faded to fourth, beaten 5 lengths. Classic Martine, the 2014 Mare Trotter of the Year, was buried from post 9 and never got involved, finishing sixth. Daylon Miracle triumphed in 1:53.3, 4 lengths better than Cowgirl Hall, with the winner's stablemate, Anaffairtoremember, third. That gave locally based horses a sweep and provided a bonanza for bettors who backed them to show. With Shake It Cerry off the ticket, the show payoffs for the top three were $9.40, $19.00 and $22.40, respectively. Dave Palone, who piloted Shake It Cerry, said there were no obvious problems with her as she suffered only the sixth loss in her 29-race career. "She felt great," Palone said. "I really got left alone the second quarter and got a nice breather up the backside. She probably just needed the work. She'll be just fine." Winning driver Aaron Merriman, on the other hand, was sitting with a handful of live horse and knew it. "Anywhere down the backside, I felt like I could have pulled at any time. She was that good," Merriman said of the 6-year-old daughter of Pegasus Spur-Daylon Marvel, who now has banked $474,907 in her career. "But I was following a great horse and a great driver. David made my decision (to stay in the pocket) for me. His horse didn't look as sharp, and I thought he carried her a lot farther than she would have gone with somebody else." Bill Bercury, who owns and trains Daylon Miracle and Anaffairtoremember, called it the biggest win of his career. He had spoken of a 1-2 finish for his mares days before the race. It was a bold vision, and Bercury's mares nearly pulled it off with their 1-3 result. "We beat the two best mares in the country from last year," he said. "I'm very excited about that. I had a lot of confidence in both my mares. They both have a lot of heart. They both really like racing, and that means so much. I love them." He said his mares are headed to a May 3 stake at Miami Valley, where they expect to take on the best in their division again. "You have to remember -- this was the first start for the two mares we beat today," he said. "Next week will be a little tougher. At least now we feel we belong there." The Meadows Maturity for stallions and geldings 4 and older is set for Saturday, May 2 as part of the track's special Kentucky Derby Day program. $33,700 Do Me Honor Pace Friday's card also featured the $33,700 championship of the Do Me Honor Pace for sophomore fillies, which was taken by Dobre Povedane in 1:54.2. The daughter of Well Said-Vysoke Tatry sat patiently in the pocket for Mike Wilder before exploding in the stretch to down the early leader, Somewhere Fameous, by 1-1/4 lengths. One Over Par overcame traffic problems to earn show. Dobre Povedane crossed the wire first in the series opening leg but broke stride in the Lightning Lane after wrestling with Wilder and was disqualified. Following that episode, trainer Tim Twaddle made some rigging changes that Wilder said helped considerably. "Tim made a couple adjustments," Wilder said. "It's tough with a green horse, going from track to track, never been here. In the first leg, it was kind of my fault. She wasn't steering the best, and I kind of chased her off her feet. "Tonight, she felt super behind the gate, and I thought I'd give her a chance. She fell in a good spot and raced great." David Prushnok and John Prushnok campaign Dobre Povedane. Tony Hall drove five winners on the 12-race card while trainer Randy Bendis fashioned a triple. The pair teamed to capture the $22,500 Filly & Mare Not Listed Preferred/Preferred Handicap Pace with Certified Ideal, who poured through the Lightning Lane to prevail in 1:52.2 and extend her career bankroll to $321,972 for owners Mike Novosel, Jr., Tom Pollack, James Walton and Bendis. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, March 24, 2015 -- Friday's inaugural staging of the $51,100 The Meadows Maturity for older distaff trotters has attracted two of harness racing's superstars -- 2014 Trotter of the Year Shake It Cerry and 2014 Mare Trotter of the Year Classic Martine. But locally based horsemen aren't backing off. Instead, they're sending out The Meadows' female trotting elite -- Daylon Miracle, Anaffairtoremember, Cowgirl Hall and Whata Donato -- to challenge the glamor girls. Bill Bercury, who owns and trains Daylon Miracle and Anaffairtoremember, insists he's racing for more than a check and a moral victory. "I'm in it to win it," he said. "A win and a second would be perfect." Bercury, a retired auto dealer who still operates a home construction business, has the track record to lend credibility to his remarks. While some horsemen concentrate on stakes candidates and others play the claiming game, Bercury has a different approach. He locates proven, quality performers, pays market rates for them and hopes to recoup his investment and then some. Usually, he does. "There's a lot of money in harness racing now," he said. "Investing $100,000 in a horse is really not a gamble, whereas five or 10 years ago, if you invested $100,000 in a yearling, that was a gamble. I'm buying proven animals; we're asking them to do what they did before. If we can improve them just a bit, we'll do very, very well with them." Both Daylon Marvel and Anaffairtoremember fit the Bercury profile. He paid $150,000 for Daylon Miracle, a 6-year-old daughter of Pegasus Spur-Daylon Marvel -- after she had amassed a considerable bank account in Canada. She earned more than $165,000 for Bercury last year alone and routinely faces, and defeats, male rivals. "Did I overpay for her? Maybe a little bit. Will I make money on her? Absolutely. I'd rather overpay for a really nice horse than get a good deal on a horse that won't be competitive." The acquisition price for Anaffairtoremember was slightly more modest -- $90,000 -- but she, too has panned out. The 5-year-old daughter of Angus Hall-Val Lee Woman has won three races and $41,625 already this season. "She likes to follow a helmet, and after she follows it, she sprints pretty hard," Bercury said. "I don't know if she's a top horse, but she loves her work, and she's easy to work with." Bercury said his reputation for purchasing quality and paying fair prices generates many queries from prospective sellers, so many that he doesn't need an intermediary to scout talent for him. "When people realize that you're a player and you don't jerk them around, they call you," he said. And he indicated his many years buying and selling cars have helped him in his pursuit of equine stars. "Something well bought is half sold," he said. The Maturity goes as race 9 on Friday's card, and it will follow the $33,700 championship of the Do Me Honor Pace for sophomore fillies. (Do Me Honor, by the way, is yet another current standout Bercury acquired using his tried-and-true methodology.) First post is 6:55 PM. Here is The Meadows Maturity field in post order with drivers, trainers, and morning line: 1. Sweetie Hearts, Tony Hall, Rich Gillock, 20-1 2. Cowgirl Hall, Eric Goodell, Ron Burke, 8-1 3. Anaffairtoremember, Mike Wilder, William Bercury, 10-1 4. Daylon Miracle, Aaron Merriman, William Bercury, 5-1 5. Rockin With Dewey, Eric Ledford, Benoit Baillargeon, 12-1 6. Handover Belle, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 12-1 7. Shake It Cerry, Dave Palone, Jimmy Takter, 7-5 8. Whata Donato, Doug Snyder, Doug Snyder, 20-1 9. Classic Martine, Dan Rawlings, Chris Oakes, 4-1 Evan Pattak

WASHINGTON, PA, April 23, 2015 -- Shake It Cerry, 2014 Trotter of the Year, and Classic Martine, 2014 Mare Trotter of the Year, headline a field of nine top older harness racing mare trotters who will contest Friday's inaugural $51,100 The Meadows Maturity at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino. The event goes as race 9, with first post at 6:55 PM. The Meadows created The Meadows Maturity, as well as a companion event for colts and geldings that's set for the May 2 Kentucky Derby Day card, as a rich earnings opportunity for the sport's trotting stars that could keep them from retiring early to the breeding ranks. That's a mission throughout harness racing, and in the case of The Meadows Maturity events, the effort appears to be a success. The distaff version attracted two Dan Patch Award winners in Shake It Cerry and Classic Martine as well as The Meadows' elite female trotters, including Daylon Miracle, Anaffairtoremember, Cowgirl Hall and Whata Donato. Shake It Cerry, who was won more than $2 million in her career, kicks off her 4-year-old campaign in The Meadows Maturity following a winning qualifier in 1:55 -- last quarter in 27.1 -- at the Meadowlands. Trainer Jimmy Takter was in the sulky that day and was pleased with her performance. "I was very impressed with how she felt," Takter reports. "I'm very happy with the way she's training." When Takter turns the reins over to Dave Palone, he won't be advising the Hall of Fame driver to take it easy on the champ her first time out." "She likes to be in charge," Takter said. "When she gets behind the gate, she wants to be part of the action." Takter indicated he and Shake It Cerry's owners, Solveig's Racing Partners, have mapped out an ambitious schedule for the champion that likely won't include any races against males. "It's possible she could race against boys if it's for 4-year-olds only, but we wouldn't race her against boys in anything that's 4 and up," Takter said. He said he does not expect this to be the final season on the track for Shake It Cerry. "At 5, I think she'll be a candidate to ship to Europe to race," Takter said. Classic Martine also is launching her 4-year-old campaign and must do so from post 9 for driver Dan Rawlings, trainer Chris Oakes and owners Hauser Brothers Racing, Susan Oakes, Conrad Zurich and Edwin Gold. But The Meadows Maturity brings her back to the scene of a particularly memorable finish. That occurred in the championship of the 2013 Pennsylvania Sires Stakes for sophomore fillies, when Classic Martine and Frau Blucher crossed the wire together in 1:53.2. It was the fastest trotting dead heat in North American harness racing history, a mark that still stands. If she wins Friday, the daughter of Classic Photo-Drinking Days becomes a millionaire. Friday's program also features the $33,700 championship of the Do Me Honor Pace for 3-year-old fillies. Here is The Meadows Maturity field in post order with drivers, trainers, and morning line: 1. Sweetie Hearts, Tony Hall, Rich Gillock, 20-1 2. Cowgirl Hall, Eric Goodell, Ron Burke, 8-1 3. Anaffairtoremember, Mike Wilder, William Bercury, 10-1 4. Daylon Miracle, Aaron Merriman, William Bercury, 5-1 5. Rockin With Dewey, Eric Ledford, Benoit Baillargeon, 12-1 6. Handover Belle, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 12-1 7. Shake It Cerry, Dave Palone, Jimmy Takter, 7-5 8. Whata Donato, Doug Snyder, Doug Snyder, 20-1 9. Classic Martine, Dan Rawlings, Chris Oakes, 4-1 Evan Pattak

Shake It Cerry, the 2014 Dan Patch Award Trotter of the Year, is ready to shake off the rust and begin a new harness racing campaign. The 4-year-old female trotter, who closed out last season by winning her final nine races, will kick off this year in Friday's inaugural $51,100 Meadows Maturity for older female trotters at The Meadows Racetrack in western Pennsylvania. Shake It Cerry drew post No. 7 in the nine-horse field and is the 7-5 morning line favorite. Meadows leading driver Dave Palone will sit behind Shake It Cerry for trainer Jimmy Takter. Classic Martine, who received the 2014 Dan Patch Award for best older female trotter, drew post No. 9 and is the 4-1 second choice on the morning line. Dan Rawlings will drive for trainer Chris Oakes. Shake It Cerry won 15 of 17 races last year and earned $1.23 million for the Solveig's Racing Partners ownership group. In addition to being named Trotter of the Year, she was voted harness racing's best 3-year-old female trotter. She also was the 2-year-old Dan Patch Award winner in 2013. She prepped for Friday's Maturity with a 1:55 win in a qualifier on April 18 at the Meadowlands. "It's her first start and she had a soft qualifier, but she felt great," said Takter, who drove the mare in her qualifier. "She felt super. I was very happy." Shake It Cerry will try to become the first trotter since Moni Maker to win consecutive Trotter of the Year awards. Moni Maker, a mare who also was trained by Takter, captured three Trotter of the Year honors from 1998-2000. The only other horses in the last 45 years to earn back-to-back Trotter of the Year accolades were Pine Chip (1993-94) and Mack Lobell (1987-88). Of course, it will not be an easy task. Shake It Cerry will see tough competition in the older female trotting division alone, with the likes of 2013 Horse of the Year winner Bee A Magician also in its ranks. The trotting mares as a group in 2014 posted eight of the 12 fastest times in their division's history, with Classic Martine responsible for three of the efforts and Bee A Magician one. "It's no walk in the park there," Takter said. "By the same token, everybody knows (Shake It Cerry) is not just an average horse either. I'm sure she can go with them. Of course, sometimes those mares are a little tougher. They've been through a little bit more. "But she's a fighter. I'm excited to see her race. I'm sure she's not going to be as dominant as when she was as a 3-year-old. We have to pick our spots, but she's going to win one or two of those big ones this year." Last year, Shake It Cerry finished her season by winning the Breeders Crown in a stakes-record 1:52.2. She also won the Matron Stakes in a stakes- and track-record 1:52.4 over a "good" surface at Dover Downs, the American-National in a stakes-record 1:52.2 and equaled the stakes record of 1:52.1 in capturing the Elegantimage. Shake It Cerry is named in honor of one of Takter's sisters. The horse's dam, Solveig, was named in honor of Takter's mother. The horse's sire is Donato Hanover, who was Horse of the Year at age 3 in 2007. Solveig was voted best 2-year-old female trotter in 2004. Classic Martine won nine of 18 races last year and hit the board a total of 16 times to lead all older female trotters in purses with $438,912. Her victories included the Armbro Flight Stakes, Miss Versatility Series championship and the Ima Lula Series final in a then-world-record-equaling performance. She is owned by Hauser Bros. Racing, Susan Oakes, Conrad Zurich, and Edwin Gold. Here is the Meadows Maturity field in post order with drivers, trainers, and morning line: 1. Sweetie Hearts, Tony Hall, Rich Gillock, 20-1 2. Cowgirl Hall, Eric Goodell, Ron Burke, 8-1 3. Anaffairtoremember, Mike Wilder, William Bercury, 10-1 4. Daylon Miracle, Aaron Merriman, William Bercury, 5-1 5. Rockin With Dewey, Eric Ledford, Benoit Baillargeon, 12-1 6. Handover Belle, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 12-1 7. Shake It Cerry, Dave Palone, Jimmy Takter, 7-5 8. Whata Donato, Doug Snyder, Doug Snyder, 20-1 9. Classic Martine, Dan Rawlings, Chris Oakes, 4-1 by Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA  

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